Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy
Stephanie Palmer’s background in both physics and neuroscience has led to her interest in phenomena in which the collective behavior of a group departs dramatically from that of the individual. She is currently studying how populations of neurons collectively encode information present in their inputs and how they perform computations on these signals. The brain performs several classes of computation, including signal comparison, prediction, error correction, and learning. To investigate these phenomena, Palmer works with experimentalists on a variety of systems: predictive coding in the salamander retina, combinatorial coding in the visual motion cortex (area MT of the monkey), and temporal coding in the zebra finch song system.
Her research is guided by the hypotheses that neurons are optimized to predict their future inputs, that information in neural populations is represented combinatorially, and that coding in sensorimotor systems is highly dynamic and behaviorally dependent.
Palmer received her DPhil in theoretical physics from the University of Oxford, Balliol College, in 2001 and her BS in chemical physics from Michigan State University in 1997. She was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship for study at Oxford and also received a fellowship from the Life Sciences Research Foundation for her postdoctoral work.
Palmer joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2012.